• Nancy Collins

The eSSence of Organization....

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

I have so many of my clients that tell me “oh I really I am organized. I know where things are, they are just messy”. I understand because I used to be that way. I always remind my clients that the goal of organization is systematized retrieval. You may know that your spices are in the top shelf of your pantry, but when we go to take a look at it, mysteriously there are 6 bottles of cinnamon mixed in with the 2 bottles of basil, 4 containers of black pepper, and 3 hallf used bottles of garlic salt. Yes, you know there are spices in the top shelf of your pantry. But they are not necessarily organized. Otherwise you wouldn’t have 6 bottles of cinnamon (because you couldn’t find them so you went out and bought 1 more). As a professional organizer, if all I do is just help you straighten your area, I haven’t done my job. You need a system to sustain it. So the next few blog posts we are going to approach Home and Office Organization using a system that many big time corporations use to streamline their processes. This system is part of the Lean Six Sigma System, and companies pay people big bucks to have consultants come in and set this up for them. But it’s always money well spent because it saves them time and money on the back end. Just like 6 bottles of cinnamon, big corporations have issues with excess, overflow and unnecessary repetition and duplication of efforts. Home management is just as necessary for harmony and cost savings.

Over the next few weeks we will look at each aspect of what are called the “5 S’s” of project or space management. These are: SORT, STRAIGHTEN, SHINE, STANDARDIZE, and SUSTAIN. We’ll look at each one as it approaches common household areas that I normally work with my clients with. Remember, Organization doesn’t have to be a huge chore. It’s a way to develop a system you can use to get things in order and keep it that way.

So let’s take a look at the first one: Sort. And let’s use everyone’s favorite organizational chores: the laundry, and the groceries..

Laundry is a never-ending, repetitive task and it's ripe for this process. A few simple changes in the way you sort your laundry (hint: YOU don't sort your family's laundry, they's how)

A common defect is the need to wash the white clothes while you still have clean color clothes. Or vice versa. Because many people wait until the laundry bin is completely full, they typically end up in frustrating situations where they have plenty of clean shirts but no clean socks. Or underwear. This is not efficient.

Instead, consider separating clothes by color or however you separate them as you go. That way, when one bin of dirty clothes fills up, just wash it. That keeps the “getting dressed in the morning” operation successful and efficient. Or the famous “honey/mom have you seen my_______?” (fill in the blank here to for your family member). So how about this idea: each family member has 2 laundry baskets or hampers, or a divided one with two separate sides, and whites go in one side, colors in the other, and they get washed as they need to?

So what about groceries? Ever unloaded the car with 6/7 bags of groceries and then asked for help putting them away? What’s the common answer? Right: “I don’t know where to put things”. Or the helper, meaning well, has a different, um, UNDERSTANDING of where things should land. So things get shoved on the shelf or in the refrigerator and there they stay. How about a simple system of labeling the shelves? Or clear bins in the refrigerator to hold small like items? A simple system of labeling is a great way to keep like things together. Labels don’t even have to be fancy—honestly simple masking tape does the job if you are in a hurry, and the bonus is you can move it or replace it. But nice neat labels make it look better. And the bonus is the groceries get put away more quickly because you (or they) don't have to spend time finding a place to put things.

Next week we will look at the next step in the process: Straighten. But for now, go bake something and start to use up that cinnamon.

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